Florida Non-Compete Agreement Lawyer
What is a non-compete agreement?
A non-compete agreement protects an employer’s legitimate business interests, but it can feel like it’s punishing you, the employee. A non-compete can make it incredibly difficult for you to find other meaningful work in your area of skill and expertise.
If you are currently employed and have signed a non-compete, or if an employer is asking that you sign one now, it is critical that you know the terms of the agreement. It is also critical that you know what defenses you have if the agreement causes problems for you once you leave your employer. Contact our experienced Florida non-compete agreement lawyers today.
Not every state permits the enforcement of non-competes, but Florida is one of the few that does. If you have any questions about an agreement that an employer is asking you to sign, or if you are being prevented from seeking the employment that you desire by your former employer, fill out the form or call the Florida non-compete lawyers at Scott • Wagner and Associates in Jupiter, Florida. We advise and represent people in your situation.
First, let’s discuss the rules by which employers are expected to follow when drafting this restrictive covenant. If any of these elements are unreasonable, the agreement will be deemed unenforceable. In other words, if it doesn’t allow you reasonable opportunity to work at another place of employment should you leave the company, it is not enforceable.
Does it protect legitimate business interests?
Under Florida law, a non-compete agreement can only protect legitimate business interests, which includes the following:
- Trade secrets (as defined by statute)
- Confidential business or professional information of value not meeting the definition of a trade secret
- Substantial relationships with specified existing or potential customers, patients, or clients
- Specialized or extraordinary training provided to employee
- Goodwill of customers, patients, or clients relating to trademarks and related issues as well as specified geographic or marketing areas
This list is not exhaustive. Once a restrictive covenant is challenged, the employer must prove that the covenant protects one or more of these interests, as well as proving that the specified restraint is necessary to protect these interests.
For example, companies often argue that their customer lists are a trade secret worth protecting with a non-compete. However, customer lists are not always as secret as they would have you believe. With the amount of information that is made publicly available via the Internet, most of the information contained in a customer list could easily be obtained by anyone else. It is up to the employer to defend the reasoning behind his or her non-compete.
Are the time and geographic restrictions reasonable?
If your field is highly competitive, a non-compete may be arguably necessary. However, you cannot be expected to avoid a certain field of employment or a certain geographic area forever. So how long is too long? Most Florida courts will not enforce agreements that last for more than two years, but longer time restrictions do exist. For obvious reasons, it is also crucial that the employer specifies which locations are covered under the non-compete.
A non-compete agreement will ultimately affect your livelihood for a certain amount of time and will have a huge impact on you. It is not something to be taken lightly by either your employer or you. If you have been bound by such an agreement, it is crucial that you contact a Florida employment lawyer immediately to discuss the details and the implications. If you have already signed and agreed to the terms, it may be necessary to challenge the agreement in court. In such instances, we provide representation throughout the litigation process.
I’ve already signed the agreement; what are my other defenses?
Just because you’ve already signed the agreement doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. As you see, the terms of the agreement may be unenforceable, but this is not your only defense. The courts may prevent an employer from enforcing the terms of a non-compete if the employer engages in unlawful activity. Examples of this may include illegal discrimination, breach of contract, illegal conduct by the employer, or requesting the employee to engage in illegal conduct. Let our Florida non-compete agreement lawyers help you.
Tell us what your situation is and we will get back with you in a timely fashion. Assert your rights as an employee; don’t let an employer harm your future unlawfully. We are here to help you.
Are you an employer? Learn more about what you should know about what you should consider when creating and implementing Florida employer non-compete agreements.